Working Mums are Less Professional

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Photo credit: The Pool/REX Features

A few weeks ago I was in an important meeting at work. It had lasted longer than I thought so I had to excuse myself. I  gave my apologies and left. This week I  turned down extra hours- citing that it wouldn’t be  financially worth it for me. Next week I have been asked to work at a time I wouldn’t normally be in. I have agreed to it but I have asked to be paid to be there.

And the reason each time? Childcare. That’s the reason I can’t stay at meetings, work longer hours, afford to pick up more work or just ‘pop in’ for an hour or two. Because every time I’m away from my children, it costs me money. That’s the bones of it.

So when Kelly Brook said that working mums are less professional it stung because I live in endless fear that she’s right.

Am I ‘using my kids as an excuse not to do my job properly’ as KB suggests women do? (She described ‘women’ doing this by the way, not parents).

I am not someone who likes bringing kids in to the work place. It doesn’t sit right with me because I compartmentalise. I also don’t really like talking about my children at work. Mostly because I am aware that hearing about other people’s kids is like hearing about other people’s dreams- at best, dull, at worst deeply revealing about a person’s psyche.

Whenever I have to say ‘I can’t because of the children’ a little bit of me cringes. So I try and say ‘I can’t’ instead. And I’ll be that’s what Brook’s co-workers who ‘have kids and you never hear about the kids’ are doing too. We leave it unsaid. We know that our male partners aren’t saying ‘ohbutIneedtogetbacktothekidsbecauseitsswimminglessonstonightsorrysorrysorry’ and ducking out of meetings in a fluster. And it’s no one’s fault. Other than a society that makes women feel like they need to apologise and excuse and validate decisions.

I don’t think ‘sorry’ should be another thing that women are told ‘not to do’. I don’t think citing childcare as a reason they can’t do something should be another thing ‘not to do’ but I would say, just saying ‘no’ is really empowering. Just saying ‘I have to be somewhere else’ is fine. And, if someone’s invited you to join an intellectual book club or a PTA meeting or a fancy dress night then sometimes it is marvellously handy to be able to say  ‘Ooh I’d love to but I’m delousing the kids’. #sorrynotsorry, Kelly.

Photo Credit: Emily Flake

4 thoughts on “Working Mums are Less Professional

  1. I think this is a really interesting post. I do think rushing off early because of the kids does make you look unprofessional- or maybe I’m being paranoid. I think it’s hard to be in a leadership role of you have childcare issues. I think you’re right. It’s easier just not to say why you have to leave early. I am also looking for a flexi-nanny who will be me till 7.30/8 some evenings, and I don’t mind paying for the privilege. It’s a weird one isn’t it? Certainly in teaching there seems to be a perception that if you want to progress in your career, you need to be issue-free, and if you can’t be, then just stick to being a regular classroom teacher.

    V thought provoking x

  2. When I was working full time as a teacher I used to get called by the nursery all the time if my baby was sick and needed to be picked up. You then had to stay off for 48 hours if they had a bug. I found it soooo stressful as I would get really behind and would be missing important lessons with gcse & a level kids. I had no choice unfortunately as no family live near but I always wondered if the school thought I was just using it as an excuse. That’s maybe what KB doesn’t realise. So often we don’t have a choice. I take it she doesn’t have kids?? Ugh!

  3. Argh! The guilt of a family day when you’re a teacher! You know colleagues have to cover and students miss out. It’s awful. And I swear my son’s nursery used to send him him if even his farts smelt funny. It was ridiculous. I don’t know what the answer is but I also, in my heart of hearts, know KB has a point. But it’s the patriarchy that’s to blame, not parents.

  4. I absolutely get that. A nanny is a dream solution. Job shares are good as you can cover for each other and get promoted together. Flexible and forward thinking employers are what’s going to help ultimately.

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